The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe formally decided Friday to convene an extraordinary Diet session next Thursday, which Abe is expected to immediately close by dissolving the Lower House despite opposition allegations that it would constitute a violation of Article 53 of the Constitution.
At meetings of the Diet affairs steering committees of both the Lower and Upper Houses, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced that the much-awaited session would finally commence on Sept. 28.
But the committee members from the Democratic Party, the largest opposition force, boycotted Friday’s meetings because they believe Abe lacks a legitimate reason to dissolve the lower chamber, which will lead to an expensive snap election on Oct. 22. The power of dissolution lies solely with the prime minister.
The DP used Article 53 to demand an extraordinary Diet session because it wanted to address the alleged Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen favoritism scandals, which had dragged down public approval ratings for his Cabinet.
Tetsuya Shiokawa of the Japanese Communist Party, attending one session as an observer, argued that dissolving the lower chamber would violate Article 53, according to a JCP source.
Four of the opposition parties in June jointly demanded that the government immediately convene an extraordinary Diet session based on Article 53, which requires the Cabinet to convene one if a quarter or more of the members of either house make the demand.
Yet Abe’s Cabinet has not convened an extraordinary session for three months, and it now appears the one that will finally start on Sept. 28 will be closed immediately the same day.
Later the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended the timing of the extraordinary Diet session, pointing out Article 53 does not specify when it should be held. This means that the government is allowed to choose the timing and that within three months is “a reasonable period of time,” Suga said.
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